How is climate change affecting Germany’s coasts?
The mean surface temperature of the North Sea in the German Bight increased by about 1.3 degrees Celsius on average between 1969 and 2017. An increase in water temperatures since 1982 of around 1.6 degrees Celsius has been measured off the German Baltic coast. The exact values vary, sometimes considerably, depending on location and water depth.¹
Sea levels are also rising on the German coasts of the North and Baltic Seas.
In Cuxhaven, for example, the relative sea level has already risen by a good 40 centimeters since the middle of the 19th century, and by some 20 centimeters at the Travemünde gauge.² Higher storm surges are one of the consequences of this development. The acceleration of sea-level rise that scientists are observing around the world can also be seen at the German coasts. If we consider the North Sea, for example, experts have identified a long-term trend of 1.7 millimeters of annual increase for the entire period from 1900 to 2015. However, the trend totals up to four millimeters if we look at just the last few decades (1992 to 2015).³
¹ Hinrichs et al. 2019: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feart.2019.00158/full; Antworten der Bundesregierung vom 8. Juni bzw. 2. Juli 2020 auf eine Schriftliche Frage der Bundestagsabgeordneten Steffi Lemke – https://www.steffi-lemke.de/uploads/2020/07/Schriftliche_Frage_Temperat…
³ https://www.deutsches-klima-konsortium.de/fileadmin/user_upload/pdfs/Pu…, S. 22